The Story of A Book Cover

Feb 11, 2019 | Lifestuff

Here’s some inside information: My latest book, Sand & Soil ~ Creating Beautiful Gardens on Cape Cod and the Islands, is being published by David R. Godine Publishers this spring. Many people don’t know that often a cover for a book is designed long before the book is even finished. In fact, I remember that the photo for The Cocktail Hour Garden was chosen over a year before the book came out and several months before I’d finished writing it. 

This new Cape and Islands book was designed by Sara Eisenman, and she and I started talking about it several months ago. I submitted several photos that I thought might make a good cover. She ended up being most interested in this picture. The road is clearly sandy, and the roses on weathered shingles are classic for this area. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the photo in a vertical format which was needed for the book. 

This photo was a cover contender, but I didn’t have a vertical version. Note to those of you who want to take photos for books: always shoot a scene in horizontal AND vertical. You never know when you’ll need one over the other.

Sara said she had other ideas, and in the end she worked with this picture. It was taken in my garden last summer. I like to create a different display of plants on this table every summer, and this year it was a collection of herbs and a new strawberry from Proven Winners. Berried Treasure Red Strawberry is a lovely, ornamental Fragaria that has pretty rose-red flowers all summer and produces a steady stream of red strawberries as well. If you plant this in your pots, window boxes or herb gardens you’ll get two-for-one: flowers and fruit! 

Other plants in this display include a Pepper habanero Roulette F1 in the “strawberry pot” planted with purslane in the side pockets. The rectangular pot on the right contains ‘Kent Beauty’ oregano, and other containers are filled with Lemon Verbena (a must-plant herb), French tarragon, lavender and rosemary.

This shot has the weathered shingles that say “Cape Cod and the Islands” so well. The vintage watering cans are part of my collection, and I think that they and the pots of herbs express that this book is about creativity and cultivation. And what would a book cover for this area be without hydrangeas?

Here is the draft of the book cover, front and back.

This book contains updated information about the plants most commonly grown in this region. It has solutions for landscape problems that people frequently struggle with, and lists of great shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals and herbs…with information about successfully growing these plants. I’ll be doing book signings and launching parties in several locations this summer, so watch for that information on my speaking schedule page in the near future.



  1. Buffy Alten

    I love these photos! Can’t wait to buy it when it cones out. So many wonderful ideas.

  2. judy vaz

    Looking forward to purchasing your book… I am pretty sure I have most of your others in my gardener’s library!


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